post brought to you by: dyson
The control that record labels have is no new news. It’s been a fight that’s been going on for years and we continue to reach that breaking point of making some sort of shift with it.
Many artists have and will try to rid themselves of this mess that major labels put them into. But to be successful and actually make a buck in the music industry as a musician means you need to be signed to a great record label. (if you’re looking my preference is Nonesuch and here’s to hoping this model changes)
The best case I can think of (and the one I spent all morning harping on) is the release of Fiona Apple’s ‘Extraordinary Machine’. There’s a whole story behind the release of this record. I can’t get all the facts straight because clearly I was not a part of it… But from what I gather it was a record Fiona wanted to give more credit to Jon than Epic Records wanted to. I’ve heard it was meant to be a Fiona Apple/Jon Brion release but Epic would not allow it.
This kinda sucks because I’ve seen Jon and Fiona perform together and they are true musicians. To put it bluntly? They don’t fuck around. Anything they would spend a significant amount of time on is something I would love to hear. Thanks to the internet, this is possible.
I’ve given both the major label release of ‘Extraordinary Machine’ a listen and I’ve given the ‘Jon Brion’ version a good listen as well. (Thank you internet pirates our there). The ‘Jon Brion’ version is hard to say it’s better. But shit. It’s better. Who am I kidding. Why is it better? Because it was two brilliant minds putting together a record they wanted to. The problem is that the record label thought it was something that wouldn’t sell. And you know what? They might have been right.
You might be wondering why I harp on such an old release. (an old release meaning 2005) But it’s one that started a trend of labels taking over great releases of true artistic albums. Why would they meddle with such brilliance? You have an artist like Fiona who could command an army with her voice and talent. You have an artist like Jon Brion who could rival Mozart with his musical brilliance. Why the FUCK would you get in between that? It’s because they thought the general buying public wouldn’t get it after Fiona had been gone for so many years.
‘Extraordinary Machine’ did well with it’s sales. But so did Kelley Clarkson at the same time. Do they fall into the same musical class? Not at all. ‘Extraordinary Machine’ sales fell while the Jon Brion version gained popularity. So thank you Epic Records or whoever was behind the whole thing. Please officially release the real version. The intelligent listening audience will thank you.
Take the time to compare the two versions below. I can go on and on about the differences but it’s up to you to decide what you like. That’s what music is all about.